Friday, September 10, 2010

Highway To Heaven

originally posted on Sept 8, 2010

When a baker's attempt to make a chocolate cake botched, he didn't throw it away. Unknowing people come to like the failure cake, and for the centuries ahead, the failed cake is a branded desert called Brownies. There are a thousand morals of this story, but to me, a failed attempt is never a failure. It's a delayed success.

And so when I unsuccessfully trapped a little black cat from an empty house in my previous home, I take it as a brownies in life. A botched attempts are challenging, intriguing, and tempting, so I follow my heart and try again, until I made it to bring her home.

I call her Koge Pan, literally means "Burnt Bun" in Japanese. She is all black, with strong, sharp green eyes, living her lonesome life in an abandoned house, coming home everyday to see if someone is filling her empty bowl.

She is fur-less when I first catch her. Her skin is so full with scabies, the mange and ticks and fleas cannot live on it. The vet I consulted actually asked me back where did I get such "exotic" kitten.

Pret A Porter
It took me four months to permanently cure her. Four months full of salves, vitamins, salt bath, spray, ointments.... Four month into a shiny, soft, and fluffy sweet bun.

I took it personally to cure her. I took it personally to care for her, not only because she deserved it, but more because she reminded me very very much like my very first pet cat. If she is male, then I would probably call her Kenichi II.

Kenichi was big, strong, handsome, and has the sharpest stare of all. My mother once has to deal with Conservancy Officer because one of my envious neighbor called them and reported that I keep a black panther cub.

So I determine to make his  female counterpart as great looking as he is.

She grown into the most beautiful "black panther cub" in the world. Fluffy hair, soft and shiny coat, brilliant green hair, and she loves to play. She doesn't get along with the kittens like other cats, and sure love to perch on top of things to stay away from the running and tumbling. She can't help it with Eden, the boy kitten climb over just to pat on her head (I call THAT a stunt) and run away before she swat him on the face.

When she is nine months old, I took her to the vet. With the help of the donation I set up in this blog, I was able to raise enough money to spay her.

It took longer than it should, however. First because the vet was taken away with her soft and fluffy fur, then because an hour later, she came out to say that Koge Pan has two bags of cysts on her ovary. She was asking if I want to remove it, considering that the bags of cysts are cancer prone and ready to burst.

The chance is 50:50. I can leave the cysts there and have Koge Pan live with ovarian cancer, or take the risk and remove the cysts with the possibility that the cysts grow somewhere else.

The vet and I decided to remove it.

The surgery went well. All of the cysts were removed, and she came home with me like new. She eat a lot, her stitches cured well, and she is now a more social cat.

The week after when I brought her back to the vet to remove stitches, the vet praise her on her wonderful progress.

But the week after, she suddenly refuse to eat, and whatever antibiotics the vet gave, she throw it all out. Soon, whatever comes into her mouth, whether it's food or medicine, she would vomit.

It's as if she had cancer already.

Over the week after, she would live on vials and i.v. I have to go back and forth to the vet, but since she fight so bravely to stay alive, I don't mind draining my money for her.

We made a promise, that I would give her the best life I can afford, and that she would grow into a healthy, beautiful cat.

On August 28, I took her to the vet again, alongside Renoir who would have his Hernia stitched. The vet and I both realized that her dark skin had turned yellowish, and Koge Pan was considerably less responsive.

We know it's looking grim, but we tried our best. I gave her the best food, the vet gave her the best treatment and medication, and for some days, she can walk again, although she still cannot eat.

On September 6, she vomits again, and she lose all her energy. She cannot stand up, cannot sit, cannot move. I took her to the vet again, and she get another serie of shots and vials. That night, she called for me all the time, and so I took her to bed with me. If sleeping side by side would calm her down, I wouldn't mind doing bed sheet laundry everyday.

On Sept 7, she is not responding at all. I went to the office, but I cannot concentrate, so I told my boss I want to go home and finish some urgency, and rush her to the vet clinic.

Both vets (the one that operates her and her associate who handles Goldie) were present, and both gave their best effort, but Koge Pan slipped into a coma.

Half an hour later, she was already in vegetative phase.

It's the time I dreaded. I just lost my rescued dog Ayumi last year from pyometra, and now I have been taken into the same situation.

I love Koge Pan. The other might go to a new family, to a forever home, but she would stay with me. We spend so much time together. Being with her is like having a sister next to me, who responded and even excel at each other promises.

I also know Koge Pan is in pain. Having to throw out every time something got into your throat is painful. Having to endure the starvation while your mouth refuse to open is painful, having to let life slipped by you is painful. And even if I decided to keep her, I would have left her soul hanging. Not alive, not dead.

We decided to let her go.

I have never saw both vet crying as they do what is necessary. They both tried the best they could. The both know how strong is the bond between us, and they both hated to lose the battle. The battle that Koge Pan had entrusted to us to win.

It was quick. She slipped away just like that, but the sorrow that come after that was long, and excruciating. Both vets and I was frozen long enough in front of the now sleeping Koge Pan, that the nurse locked the door so that no one would disturb us.

They cysts had not go anywhere. It hadn't grow anywhere else, it didn't broke, it didn't turn into cancer, but it triggered different lethal enemy: Leukemia.

On Sept 8, as I took her ashes, I brought it over to the vet clinic once more, also to say my greetings to the vets who would celebrate Idl Fitri at Sept. 10.

When I gave her the money for euthanasia, the vet refused, and instead said "We all lose the game. Let's keep the money in her memory, so that we can save others' life"

God had given the best for me. Now that He want to take, let Him take only the best.

6For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. ~ 2 Timothy 4:6-8

Deja Vu?, Goldie is Paying It Forward

Originally posted on August 27, 2010

It has been raining for three days now. The land is wet and soaked, the rivers running fast, and it's dark sooner than other days. Sometimes the wind blows so hard, the wisps of the trees is shaken and bend.

I cannot go anywhere in the rain like this, so I sit down on my bed and trying to read. I've been longing for a time like this for so many times.

Across my bed against my foot, Goldie is wiping herself silently. Next to her Tacos and Nachos, her adoptive kittens curling against each other soundly asleep.

I smile to myself, thinking how fast the time flown. Last year in a rainy night like this, Goldie was still a baby, crying and yelping under the rain with her two siblings, calling for anyone to save them from the pouring water in the freezing night.

Baby Goldie
There were three of them. One male I named Goldwyn (from Metro Goldwyn Meyer), and two female I called Golda (from Golda Meir) and Goldie (from Goldie Hawn). No particular preference, they just happened to be all yellow, and all of those public figures had "gold" as part of their name.

The boy, Goldwyn, was weaker than the other, and so he died two weeks later.  I continue to bottle feed the remaining girls in the hope that they would somehow survived the nasty weather.

It's nice to know that they are holding on. With works taking more than 8 hours a day, I can only feed them twice daily, to which they always look forward.

I wonder, however, how they would pass the day when I work.

At one year old, Kaitou is a good big brother.
Kaitou took care of them. As the eldest in the gang, he often acted as a benefactor to the younger, and in the case of these two golden girls, he curl up and allow the girls to snuggle on him for warmth.

There's nothing wrong with that, of course, except the fact that Kaitou is male.

There are more than one occasion when during sleep, the two girls try to breast feed from him, but he never seem to be disturbed by it. He just let them be.

After Golda joined her brother last Christmas during a parvo outbreak, Goldie grow a deep attachment to Kaitou. She look up to him as her own parent, and follow him everywhere. He, in turn, taught her everything he know, from staying safe while jumping from roof to roof, getting to know the neighborhood, to hunting the rats and presenting them on the doormat like first class gourmet.

Goldie's favorite hangout place (when she's home)
Unfortunately, however, because she is learning from a male cat, she become a tomboy. She is never at home, she is grumpy, she is everything you can imagine in a tomcat. She also spray, by the way. A habit that gave me headaches, although I can be rich if I manage to get her in Ripley's Believe it or Not. The only thing I haven't see, and wish not to, is her trying to mate with another girl.

Following the advice of my regular pet supplies store, I went to spay her earlier. Anyway, the vet, not believing what I said that she is a grand tomboy, failed the shock test.

Goldie ran away. She went missing for two whole weeks despite the vet place is only one block away and she used to pass that place every day.
When she is home, at last, she is full of cuts and bruises, dirty, smelly, and hungry.

I truly question if I should have separate her from Kaitou back then.

When I moved to a rented house a few months later, she hasn't been home for a week, so I decided to go back later at night and wait for her by the door. Though she is a troublemaker, I don't want to let her go. Funny enough, however, she catches up with us as the pick up drove away, yelling angrily to me as she ran by the car.

In the new house, she is the first to went missing again.This time, she went home pregnant.

As much as I saw her grow into a tomboy, this time I see her grow into a lady. She is home a lot, she is clean, and she diligently browse into every hole for her labor day. She still play with other cats, but she is no longer a rambling rose.

A few months later she went missing again, but I was not surprised. It's hard to stay put if your blood is boiling with curiosity. Besides, she is girl outside, man inside. But I was wrong. She went home crying, panicking, and tripping me all the time.

At one point I see that she is trying to tell me something, so I followed her.

She lead me to a nearby river, where I later rescued River Phoenix (read her story here: By The River Piedra I sat down and Wept).

River Phoenix, then, followed her everywhere, looking up to her like Goldie is her own mother. She doesn't mind. Being pregnant herself, she have plenty of time nursing her teen stepdaughter.

Then come that night, when I saw blood coming out of her vagina. She was busy running all over, so I thought she was near labor. I put her in a box filled with used and broken shirts, and try to make it as comfortable as possible.

When the bleeding haven't stop on the third day, I knew something is wrong. so I contacted the vet, and told her what is going on. I feared that she had a miscarriage, or at least something wrong with her pregnancy. It was August 24, the day when Picassa will finish her last physiotherapy. I apologize to Picassa that she cannot finish it that day, but the vet called and she said, she had talked to her associate in her clinic and arranged so that we can treat both cats.

I borrowed company car and drove them both straight to the emergency door. Goldie was put into surgery room at once, while Picassa have her final therapy.

An hour later, the vet came out and told me what we feared: Goldie had a miscarriage. She had three kids, and all died inside.

Since she was already cut open anyway, she was spayed the same instant.

Though I know Goldie is a tomboy, that is no guarantee that she would be tough. In fact, even the vet didn't know how she'd handle it. Every cat has their own way. Some mad, some sad, the other depressed, and some other lived on as if nothing happened. We can only hope for the best when she came around.

Fate again twisted the next day when I worked. All of a sudden I decided to take different route to go home, and on my way, I hear a kitten calling.

Literally. Call me crazy, but I swear I hear a calling voice. A familiar meow that I can directly interpret as a call to come over.

There, under the rain, I saw two tabby cats calling for help. Their mother are nowhere to be found, so I am sure someone dump them there. I cannot come into the alley because it's barred, so I bought a piece of barbecue beef to coax them.

The problem is, I don't bring a large bag. How am I supposed to carry them under the rain, with a bike?

Earlier that morning a friend of mine had sent me a package of shirts, so it gave me ideas. I sent my apologize to her for this idea, but I have no choice.

I open the package to use the shirts as a carrying bag, but out of my surprise, she wrapped the shirts in a wallmart bag.

God is merciful. He made my friend include the Wallmart bag with her package so I don't have to use her gift.

At home, Goldie is waiting by the door. She still cannot walk properly due to the C section, but she walk anyway.

And as soon as I put the two kittens down on the floor, she immediately fall to her side and call the kitten to come over.

Oh yes, God is merciful indeed. He does work mysterious way.

I know I cannot open the bandages yet, but again, a crazy idea cross my mind, so I carefully cut holes on the area above Goldie's nipple, without breaking the bandage, and there they were. Goldie gladly offer her milk, and the two kitten happily accept the benevolent offer.

As I cut more holes to expose more nipples, Goldie generously extend her offer to the other kittens: Nevaeh and Eden.

Goldie feeding Eden, with bandage on. Looking at the Camera is Picassa, just spayed.
A flash of thunder brought me back to the present. It seems like I wander in my thought long enough. The sky is already dark, and Goldie is already asleep. Beside her, all four of her adoptive kitten peacefully breast feeding.

Who would have thought that Goldie would change so much?

I don't think so. Goldie hasn't change. She is paying it forward.

A little note:

Indonesia has a native, exotic cat breed called "kucing mas" (pronounced: koo-ching mah-s). It has short hair, and all part of them are yellowish golden. The breed is now rare, and therefore expensive. Goldie is very similar to Kucing Mas that most people mistaken her for one. The other mistaken her as a Ceylon. I have no idea if she is indeed Kucing Mas, or some Kucing Mas mix, but even if she is, I am not going to commercialize her nor let her fall into the breeder's hand.  There has been several time that some people approached me to adopt Goldie, but since they all seem to have the same hidden agenda (to breed her) I refused.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

In Eden

originally posted at Aug 22, 2010; 15:45

When I was small, I used to sing a little nursery rhyme when I am home alone: "In my own little corner on my own little chair, I could be whatever I want to be..." I would then continue the rhyme with imaginations about the world. Amelia Earhart across the Pacific, a black lady with a pot above her head in Bombay, a shepherd by the Alpines, a mountain ranger in Rocky mountains, diving the Great Barriers Reef in Australia, among the wolf packs in the wild, walking alongside a white and black panda in China. I could go on for hours, not realizing how time passed by as I continue to work on my chores.

Gone are the playful days, and the many distant dream that I once so determined to live for, the little wants that keep our heart sparking with fire, and anticipating new days. Though I have not yet outgrown the Peter pan and wings, I bitterly accept that I am too old for tales of knights and kings. I am now a full time salary-woman and a part time animal welfare fighter.
As the calling of my humanity grow louder, I took an utterly brainless decision to be a full time rescuer, and part time salary-woman. I know that my life would go downhill after that. No more designer's shirts, no more expensive make ups, no more fancy food. I simply gave up the life of a princess to become a desolate pariah in the unforgiving consumerism world.

Even as I walk through this hard life with joy and genuineness, routine is my worse devil. It's not easy to juggle between work, life and rescue; and since work and rescue must go so I can live and let my refugees live, I crossed out life.

With that, gone is my remaining day dreams. Life is a stereotype. A rat race, said Robert Kiyosaki. When people send messages to each other to live as if today is last, I know how it feels. It tasted just like how I have been spending my last dime every single day.
For Eden, everyday is a special day. The sun is shining, the day is bright, the play is right. Life has endless offering for a thirsty curiosity. Never had crossed in his mind that every second, millions of his kin was murdered, and the world might have a lot darker side than the night when I met him.

After I lost the golden kitten who was about to be a chili sauce (read my other post: Child's Play), I ran away from my failure into more work, and more rescue. After all his pain all I can give is a name. Topaz Tanenah d'Angeli. Topaz for his color, Tanenah for being such a cute, tiny golden lion, and Angel for being one, but aside of that, I fail to save his live. I loathe my homeland for being so ignorant to neglect animal welfare law, and I curse them in life and death by being so corrupted to let so many cruelty take place and don't even feel anything.

Two days after his passing I work late that I missed the garbage, so I got to dump the trash by myself in a landfill about ten minutes bike ride from home. As much as I hate it, the rain has just stop. The road was muddy, and it's cold outside.

As I dump the big trash bag, I felt something creeping on my ankles.

I hoped it wasn't a cockroach. I fear cockroach, and in respond to that fear, I froze. At home, I can just jump and run to get some insecticide, but at the landfill? Should I scream for help?

There it was, a pair of furry, white claw and big round eyes, looking straight at me, with tail swishing happily, wanting to play.

I cannot believe what I see. What is this little kitten - just as big as my fist - doing here?, but I don't have plenty of time to think. A man with a small bulldozer is coming, so I scoop him up and step aside to give way for him.

"There were two yesterday", he said, answering my dumb eyes as he passed by. "I think it was twin, but I'm not sure. I'm old, so my eyes were cheating on me often"

We laugh. He laughed to cheer himself on the sad fact, I laugh in relief because his eyes were not old enough to just ran over the two kittens with a bulldozer.

It will be all right. Nevaeh giving Tanenah a hug
 Besides, I know where his twin is. In my house. I found him staring to a puddle at the side of the street the day before, just outside the landfill, and I scoop him up. He was the gray and white kitten who gave that warm cuddle to Topaz Tanenah  d'Angeli.

A friend of mine named that gray and white kitten "Nevaeh" (try to read it backward to find out what it means), and he looks almost exactly like this little kitten I just met, it's just that Nevaeh's gray is tabby gray, while this one's gray is plain gray.

I pushed him into my pocket, and give him a ride to his home; our home, and as soon as I put him down at the door, Nevaeh run like hell to him.

Last time it's child's play, this time it's fate play.

For some weeks, I have no idea how to call the new comer, more so because his brother had heaven as his name, but I come to call him Eden.


 Actually, the name is only to match that of his brother's, but as he passed his days with the syndicate, he add more meanings to his name.

He is Eden, pure, full of spirits, so he play all day long. Running here, going there, nagging the older cats, tumbling as he run.

He is Eden, bright, free, and innocent, so he climb (my leg, usually), jumps, rolls. And when he cannot wait on the line for the other cat to finish eating, he'll just push his head into the bowl and munch. "Sorry folks, I am growing, I need plenty of food, and I need it now"

Eden is joy, happiness, Eden's spirit is contagious. For as long as my rescue life I have never met a cat with such shiny attitude that pass through the other senior to every corner of the syndicate's den. Wherever I am in the house, I can locate Eden only by the brute noise he made while playing with the others, older or younger.

Even to myself, the little fur ball never fail to brighten my morning, rolling (literally) all over  to somersaulting from one pile of boxes to another, to biting the tail of one of an older cat. He balanced out my crying and stressful life with laughter and sheer delight. Unknowingly for me, Eden had taught me to keep the sunny side up because nothing more will come out of a burnt out face. Enjoy every day, make it the best always, and never missed the courtesy of small good things that come in each our step.

brother hugs

The back side of it, though, I have to be extra careful with his boldness. He followed the older cats playing in the garden, and even tried to get past the fence, which gave me heart attack all the time. With bunch of torturous kids living next door, Eden's fearless joy can land him in trouble, especially since kitten his age has not yet learn about proper sense of direction.

But he played on, and one day, slipped out to the street and ended up stranded in the next door garden.

It's the first time I heard him cry. I know he fear, but I cannot go inside the neighbor's garden because they lock the door and won't come out, so I tried to coax him from the small opening under their fence. As he gingerly move closer to me, however, my cruel neighbor come out and spot him. He mumbles several nasty words, and the next second, Eden come flying over the fence like volley ball, right into my arm.

The man kicked him. Hard enough to send him flying over one meter fence.

Though nothing of him is broken, Eden learned his lesson.

Feeling kicked out (literally)
For the next few days, he is more quiet, and he never get out of the house. He went out to play (can't resist the call I guess) but only as far as the front porch. He sleep alone (usually he perched on top of the other cats), so I spend some time with him just to cheer him up and bring back the sun of my syndicate.

But it seems like, heaven has its own plan.

In the next days, although I always stay by his side, and it cheer him up considerably, Eden is never the same bouncy spirit again. He is more solemn, calmer, laid back.

Though he bounced back into the merry, playful kitten soon after, he limit himself to the edges of my porch.

Sandwich? Hotdog? er... hot cat?  Eden, River Phoenix, Nevaeh
The other joined him. It never cease to amaze me how cats: an animal said to be indifferent and self centered, can be so communal. When their play extended to the fence of my garden and Eden stopped, they stopped. When Eden returned and play alone on the porch, everyone follows. Hadn't I seen it myself, I wouldn't have believed how a small kitten make such big difference.

I took it as a lesson for myself. I learn to believe that though we might seem insignificant, if we put our best effort and our whole heart into something, the world will turn in our favor. We just need to make the most out of everything, no matter how small and insignificant it is.

I learned to count my blessings, in the courtesy of small things along my way. The cold morning breeze, the calling of the sunrise each morning, the tiring yet satisfying duty of running a shelter alone, and the solace of being a potential outcast for believing in different things.

Eden had taught me to never be afraid to reach out. The world is a hazardous area, but it shouldn't shun us away from doing the best, making the best, and enjoying the most.

Eden taught me that while we might be beaten, we should not be broken.

Lap Time!
Nearly two weeks from the kicking event, Eden start to lose appetite. He lose weight, though continue to be fluffy. He slept more, and less playful. His vet fans found nothing wrong with him, but being a psychologist myself, I had the feeling that Eden got PTSD.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is health disturbances as delayed response to stress after certain event. It can vary from a simple headache to nasty migraine, to organ failure, or total loss on reality (meaning you become crazy).  In Eden's case, he might not be showing symptoms as soon as he got kicked, maybe because of his supportive peers, but his young body is too frail to suppress the stress too long.

It is the challenge of Animal Psychology .  Though the basics of the theory is the same, on human, we took the advantage of the same language, while in animals, we should solely rely on their body language, which can often be deceiving. We can analyze their outer behavior, we can look into them and be sure that nothing is wrong, but their heart belongs to them alone.

Especially in the cases of domesticated stray like Eden, or the syndicate, and many other, we can never know fully what they have been through, how hard they took it, and therefore cannot fully anticipate the effects of their hard life prior to their arrival. We can only perceive, but never sure, at least not as sure as we can with fellow humans. I strongly believe that such mistakes, wrong anticipations, is what causing problem in adoption process. With all due respect to the well intention of the foster or parents, even the best treatment will not be effective if it's directed to the wrong place.

Cats are more like human. They can be social, they can be communal, but each of them have unique individual traits that need to be respected. They have private areas that we cannot enter, more so because they speak different language than we are.

Putting these challenges the Eden's way, I take my relationship with each of the refugees like the meeting of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in "You've Got Mail" So much twists and turns, and pain and energy consuming, but if we truly wish for the best, and listen to our heart, all that started good, will end good.

Well, most of the time, because I am often got Lost In Translation.

Dealing with Eden's set back, we (the syndicate and I) continue to support him, we continue to play with him, spend more time by his side, and he got better and better, but heaven got its own plan. Eden does not belong to this dark and evil world, he belong to a bright sun, he belongs to the rainbows, and green pastures, and many butterflies.

Eden belongs to eden.

This morning I saw him sleeping, non stop, while the other already awake and play. I nudge him and he got grumpy,so I thought he was just sleepy, so I took his picture while he sleep because he's so cut.

Last Nap
In the evening, however, when I came home from the office, I found him on his favorite towel, curling up on his side, breathless. His face calm and peaceful.

Next to him Nevaeh sit quietly, and when I pat his head, he went away. Behind me all the other cats gathered, sitting and watching. It seems to me that all of them already know what is coming.

Again, I was lost in translation.

That night when I took him to be cremated, I relive all the wonderful lesson that he had shared me. To stay courageous, to never let cruelty take hold of your heart, to make the most out of everything, to bounce back where you fall, and to keep your cutest pose to your last breath, and to make everyday a special day.

Eden is here for a mission: to teach me to dare to reach out into the darkness, so that I can take someone's hand into the light, just like he reached out his paws to me in the dark, so he can shine a light into our days.

When I almost believe that teaching human is mission impossible, his brief visit to my life is a huge mission accomplished.

Too bad it isn't a happy ending like fairy tale, where Cinderella goes to the church and Fairy Godmother moved on to her next client, but, who knows? He might be clawing someone else's ankle right now, with a brighter halo on his head.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Child's Play

It is probably the ten thousandth time I told the kid next door that animals are not a toy. They are small, harmless, helpless, but that doesn't mean they are here for heartless fun, as a furry ball, a sitting target for rock throwing, or a plushy object to learn about how gravity works from above a bridge - among a few.

Though animals doesn't speak our language, they have feelings, they know pain, and yet they quietly endure all sort of misery that we have put them into, especially that particular Sunday when I saw yet the same kid next door kicking around a stray kitten as big as their palm of hand.

I'd warned them again, and prepared my well repeated advices, when I saw one of them take a big rock from an ongoing building site at the other side of our house, struggle to carry it over, and drop it on top of the kitten.

I screamed. I screamed as I ran outside to remove the boulder and hold the kitten as tightly as I could, not bothering to explain what is happening that I yelled on their boys.

When the mother asked her kids what is going on, and why did I rushed inside with a cat in my arm, the two boys innocently reported that they tried to make a chili sauce for their mud cake.

I could care less if they are six years old, but a chili sauce made of a real blood of a kitten certainly raise my question as to how a mother would raise her children.

A mother by any other name is a noble creature. She has a great heart, she is protective, and compassionate to all living, especially to her dear children. But as to left her four children running on the street, playing mud and screaming around the block from the sun rise to the evening is incomprehensible to me.

More incomprehensible when the next day she called me various names and tell me that I should have taken good care of my cats better instead of leaving them running on the streets sans care.

To be frank, I didn't even bother to answer. If she can be so caring enough as to lecture me about taking good care of my refugees, she should first look at herself on the mirror and see how she raised her wild kids - for the lack of better description. Most of all, if a mother, a creature that suppose to be a role model of compassion can be so ignorant about preserving live, she is probably not human in the first place.

And the kitten is a stray cat.

I haven't named her, but she is the most beautiful alley cat I ever met. Her fur is golden, and contrary to the usual short hair domestic, she sports a long and luxurious golden hair. She reminds me of Dewey, from the infamous Spencer Library Cat in Iowa, USA.

Unfortunately, in contrary to Dewey's good looking and luck, she has so far to go before she can claim her right to live.

The boulder left remarkable amount of scars on her face, and her malnutrition-ed body deferred her from her original beauty

Yet she tried to live. She tried to heal, she tried to play. She tried her best to fit in, and the other refugees accept her at no condition.

I am honored to answer her call. I give her the best treatment that I can afford, and I am glad that my previous ChipIn effort goes well enough as to give me a little money to buy her better food and medication.

For the next days, aside from the plaguing complains from my next door neighbor, that lovely mother of four kids who laugh at the idea of Chili Sauce, I nurtured her back to health.

She excels at it. She excels at getting well and catching up and even play ball with the other, though every time the ball hit her face she would run and shiver. She now has a belly, and after some de-worming she even catch up to her deserved health faster.

Last night, I was delighted that for the first time, she has the power to jump on my lap, purred loudly, and sleep there when I fight online for other animals around the world.

When she jumped down a couple of hours later, I was even more delighted, knowing that she had power to hold herself together, and go fetch some milk in the kitchen.

But she never returned.

Hours later when my heart urge me to look around, I found her there, sleeping so peacefully on her favorite towel, never to be awaken again.

It seems like she had taken her wing to fly back home, and race us out and arrive first in her Canaan.

I haven't even named her. I wanted to share her news and have everyone suggested a name, like a baby shower. I had intended her to become everyone's mascot of how animal suffering can end in our caring hand, but she couldn't wait.

She has her schedule and she stay true to it.

Today the same kid exercise his prayers out lout on the street in front of our house. A prayer in Arabic I know so well, a prayer to praise the Lord, and an invitation to all to pray and ask for forgiveness.

He probably never remember about the little kitten he had tried to crush last week, happily go round his daily life without care as a child should be; but I hope God listen to his prayer, and forgive him for what he did. A play that cost the world one innocent life.

I hope God forgiven his mother, because she was vengeful to me for yelling at her kids, and because her love for her children had blinded her from the responsibility to guard other life and teach her kids about the value of a heart beat.

I hope God forgive me for not being able to do better.

I hope God forgive the cruelty that often happen next to us, without us being able to do anything about it, while we all unite to battle all sort of devilish act against animal in another part of the world.

I cannot give anything more to the little angel. I cremated her and spread her ash in the garden, hoping that she would someday come down and play a little while, but if any of the readers would like to suggest a name, you are most welcome. Leave a comment. I feel it's the least we can do to pay her for a mountainous blessings and honor to save life, though for a very short time.

So that she would be remembered as someone, not just ashes flown by history Not just a forgotten child's play.

So that we would remember that our road is still long, and animal welfare we all fighting for, is still waiting for us to answer its call.

Rest well, little angel. See you soon.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Streets of My Homeland

originally posted at Quest2Canaan on Jun 24, 2010

"For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other; they all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from dust, and all turn to dust again."  Ecclesiastes, 3:19-20.

While the quote is proven true so many times, however, the fate of animals around the world does not seem to resonate with the holy warning. Especially in under developed or third world countries, poverty, lack of education, social gap, and corruption often lead to rationalization to abuse natural resources that lead to environmental destruction.

In countries where the lurk of capitalism echoes the promise of better living, what was once the need to survive was manipulated and turned into greed , with most of the time with total ignorance and negligence to nature. People made forget of what they made of, and made to see no existence other than their own race.

Particularly in Indonesia, where I live, schools have never failed to mention that we are blessed with such beauty, that our country was called "tropical paradise" We were taught that our country is rich, that 20% of all the rain-forests in the world lied still on the virgin areas of Borneo and Sumatera, and our rivers richly invested with variety of fish and plants.

Somewhere during the early years in our education, we are made to know that 80% of our nation are made from seas, each with its own uniqueness and natural resources, and never once our teachers forget to tell that all of our island were passed over by all of the two volcanic belts, another generous gift from our Lord that made our land fertile. So fertile that one of our folk song said "throw a rock on the ground, you will grow corn"

The only thing they fail to teach us is that Indonesia also is the country with fastest deforestation (4% a year), a fact that driven our president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to enforce a "one man, one tree" campaign, in (desperate?) attempt to restore our lost forests to plantation and excessive human encroachment.

Though itself bound under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) which stipulates that endangered species must not be traded, Indonesia doesn't have animal welfare law to protect its animal diversity, a state that give us the chance to be in constant war against our neighbor: the animals.

By law, only licensed wildlife hunters and traders are allowed to capture and trade animal parts in Indonesia. However, in its investigations released last year,  the infamous animal right organization PETA found most hunters did not have permits.

The Forestry Ministry Directorate General of Nature Conservancy and Forest Protection (PHKA) oversees the licensing and quotas for wildlife trade in Indonesia. PHKA director general Darori said his office provided permits to groups of skin collectors as well as hunters.

Every year, his office releases a quota for the wildlife trade, based on recommendations from the Indonesia Institute of Sciences (LIPI). “LIPI checks whether there is an abundant stock or not. We’re bound to an international convention as well,” Darori said.

Unfortunately - deliberate or not -  he sequentially add that “The ones who trap the snakes and lizards are villagers. They sell the skins to licensed collectors. It’s not possible for every single villager to obtain a permit”

According to the PHKA data, the total quota for 2010 is 430,280 snakes; 413,100 monitor lizards, and 29,500 crocodiles, but the kill number is much higher on the streets.

In the video footage of its yearlong investigation, PETA Asia Pacific released video footage from its yearlong undercover investigation of gruesome killing of snakes and lizards in five Indonesian cities. A National Geographic report shows that Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s biggest exporter of wildlife, including live animals for pets and animal parts.

In one of PETA's footage shows a man in Tangerang chopping off snake heads and skinning their slithering bodies while the mouths of their severed heads are still opening and closing. In another shot, a light green lizard monitor is held by two men while they drain the blood from its throat.

A snake head is chopped off by a man in Tangerang, highlighting some of the gruesome killing occurring in five Indonesian cities. A National Geographic report states that Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s biggest exporter of wildlife, including live animals for pets and animal parts. 
Courtesy of PETA Asia Pacific

 Confronting the finding, Darori said his office made sure animals were not tortured during the killings. “So, when a snake’s head is cut off, it is not tortured,” he said, arguing that Laymen would torture snakes they encounter, out of fear, compared to professional hunters.

“Because the skin is what hunters are after, they do it swiftly so the skin is not damaged. Commoners would batter a snake with a stick if they found one,” he said.

In a more remote part of the country, a wealthy landlord in Medan can be seen bragging his crocodile farm, when piles of saltwater or freshwater alligators been taken captive in filthy condition, piled up one on top of the other, stoically waiting to be slaughtered before their skin is exported to Hermes or other high brand fashion for bags, clothes, or shoes.

Worker picks up a saltwater crocodile (crocodylus porosus) at a crocodile breeding facility in Jayapura, Papua, on Friday. The facility is breeding some 7,500 crocodiles for their valuable skins to make leather products for export to countries such as Singapore, Japan and Italy. 
(Antara/Oka Barta)

Those are just some example, though those who has time to search the internet will be overwhelmed by the result.  The notoriety of Indonesian trade in animal products have been well known around the world, calling various environmentalists and conservationists to spend much, if not all, of their effort restoring what we proudly exploit to no limit.

Ironically, while everyone else were busy fighting for animal welfare for Indonesia, Darori (yes, the director of Indonesia's natural conservatory) instead said that Indonesia’s local fashion industry should use animal parts and develop its own brands.

“We can make them as good as international brands. It’s just that our brands are not as big as international labels,” he said.

His statement boldly answered questions of why tiger skin, leopard's fur, elephant's ivory, and rhino's tusk down to the most docile rabbit to tiny hamsters were freely traded and hunted to extinction.

Just like how the crocodiles lives solely as financial means of their owners, cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, birds, reptiles, are exploited to their tiniest being for their mater's maximum profit.

Here in Indonesia, it is the pet who feed the owner, not the other way around. The more exotic the breed, the more expensive, the higher the status of their owner and therefore, the more they can sell their pets.

What happened to the rest is a question of the strength of your gut. Cats are being crushed over, living goldfish thrown to the sewer, and while majority of Indonesian are Muslims who thinks dogs are unholy (haram) their fate is much worse.

Horses are often forced to carry harvests several times their own weight. or beaten to drag the whole carriage-full of the entire neighborhood. The owner beating them to continue walking despite their foamy mouth, and when they are not strong enough to carry anymore, mostly from malnutrition or sickness, they are sold to slaughter, or been butchered by the owner himself , their meat cooked, making room to catch another one.

Rabbits are breeding machines. The older ones were butchered for their fur, while their meat sold by the street as traditional barbecue.

It's not easy to handle, to be frank, and never will be easy. Being an animal advocate in a country with no conscious (Indonesia is the most corrupted country in the Asia Pacific during 2008 - 2009, mind you) means you would have to mend your own heart whenever it breaks along each abuse.

Most often, we are the bullied ourselves. When trying to save an animal, people who thinks we do useless things take out their frustration on us, seeing us more as their enemy. Our lives were deliberately made more difficult, and they wouldn't stop at nothing to break us. After all, when living (read: money) is a hard thing to do, you can't even blame yourselves anymore.

But animal rescue is the blood that has been passed down in my family for generation, starting from when my great great grandfather moved in from Yunan, China, to the day when my Japanese father join the force in saving the non humans: an inheritance I proudly accept, and a purpose I willingly give to drive my life.

So all these years, like my parents and the fathers before them, I have been trying to do whatever in my capability to serve them, although compared to ll the abuse story I hear and witness, my doing would be but a tiny dew in the ocean.

I neglect social networking, and though I am not an antisocial I limit myself from going to the mall and gossiping in the cafe, choosing to work extra hours instead so that I can safe more animals, or pay the vet bills.

I only dreamed of a small place, a tiny house for one or two person with a small garden where all the tired street cats or dog can just escape from their tiresome life for a while and rest while I took care of their wounds. I yearned of a tree where the birds doesn't have to fear of hunter's gun, I relentlessly prayed to give my whole service for those animals: conceived without sin to mankind, yet mortally paying with their life, dying on the streets of my homeland.

I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish this race and complete this task my Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying the gospel of God's grace
– Acts 20:24

It's just that, things were going out of the line a little bit, and I was hospitalized with severe typhoid (it's 7 out of 10 in scale of severity) and swollen liver due to overworking.

To make the story more self pity inducing, Indonesia has no social security, so I was also left to pay more than US$ 2,000 for my medication all by myself.

So I have this choice: leaving this cursed "tropical paradise" (or so they said in the tourism leaflet) and return to my father's homeland, or stay in Indonesia with nothing to feed my refugees and myself.

It's an easy choice: I stay.

I do not know how I would live with an empty wallet and zero saving account. I do not know how I would be able to continue feeding my refugees, or pay the vet bill, but I have been taught that the value of one person lies in his faith on his cause.
But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.
~2 Chronicles 15:7
It's a downright stupid choice and reasoning, really. But Japan has Sensui Sannosuke and the many underground animal advocates. My beloved whales had Pierce Brosnan and Paul Watson. Canada has Nigel Barker and Senator Mac Harb defending their seals, Australia, UK, even South Africa has their own fighters, but if I am to go, who will stand for Indonesia?

Taking this path, I know I won't be able to do it alone again, if I want to live long enough to care for the animals, and that is why I confided with one of my very best friends, who then give me her wisdom in appealing for help.

Learning from my previous experience with Paypal (see the post below) I come to learn about ChipIn, a fund raising widget that will allow me to raise fund as a personal and private rescue. Unfortunately, however, my old blog in Wordpress doesn't allow any widget unless I pay more than US$ 20 per month, a sum I would rather save to buy some food or first aid for animals.

So I then choose to move everything to Blogger so that I can fund raise while maintaining information for my supporters.

The big news is, just like I will tell and re-tell,  there's the magic of currency differences that cause 1 US$ to worth 9,000.00 Indonesian rupiah. What about that? not everyday your single dime can turn into a mountainous of good karma, and huge help for a private refugee house, so there's no need to be shy, because even when you enter only half a dollar, it worth one meal for a cat here, and one meal for a cat means another day to live, on the streets of my homeland.